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Taft v. Cerwonka

Supreme Court of Rhode Island
433 A.2d 215 (1981)


Facts

Earl Taft (plaintiff) and Marian Taft (plaintiff) sued Eric Cerwonka (defendant) and Richard Miller (defendant) for the wrongful death of Beverly Taft. The Tafts alleged that Cerwonka was driving a car that was the proximate cause of Beverly Taft’s death. The car was owned by Miller. Neither Miller nor Cerwonka were insured. The Tafts also filed a complaint against the Tafts’ insurer, Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate), under Allstate’s uninsured-motorist policy (UM). The Tafts had two cars, both of which were insured, and had a corresponding UM policies. Before trial, the Tafts moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of whether they could stack UM coverage for each vehicle. This motion was granted. Subsequently, the case went to trial. Allstate moved for a directed verdict because, it claimed, Allstate’s liability should be limited to $5,000. The trial court denied Allstate’s motion. The jury found for the Tafts in the amount of $33,000. Allstate moved for a new trial on the issue of damages and also moved the court to enter judgment in favor of the Tafts for $10,000, which was the limit of the Tafts’ policy with Allstate. The trial court denied these motions and entered judgment in the amount of $20,000 in favor of the Tafts and against Allstate. The $20,000 represented the aggregate amount of Allstate’s liability under the policies for both automobiles. Allstate appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Murray, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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